BHATE has provided structural condition evaluation of several prominent historic structures. Conservation of our existing structures has obvious economic and social value. Moreover, historic structures provide an excellent laboratory for studying aspects of structural engineering, materials science, forensic engineering, and building design from the past. The following are some examples of BHATE’s forensic condition evaluation projects.
Rickwood Field opened in 1910 and is listed on the United States Register of Historic Places. It is the oldest professional baseball park in the United States and is a great tourist attraction for the City of Birmingham. Since 1996, enthusiasts from across North America visit Rickwood to attend AA regulation game, named the "Rickwood Classic" which is played in May.
The grandstands at the park are constructed of concrete and steel, with steel roof girders and trusses supporting wood roof decking. Over time, the structural conditions have deteriorated considerably. In March 2017, the City of Birmingham, called on BHATE to conduct an initial assessment and determined that that the structure posed safety concerns for visiting Rickwood Classic patrons. The park was closed and COB retained BHATE for further structural condition evaluation and to develop remedial and repair measures. The repairs are now underway and barring weather or other issues the park should be able to host the 2018 Rickwood Classic. We are proud to be a part of this historic restoration project.
The Lyric Theatre is a former vaudeville and movie theater constructed in 1914. In early 2014 Birmingham Landmarks announced that $7.4 million had been raised, making it possible to begin interior renovations. BHATE Geosciences was retained to provide an evaluation of the foundations and structural condition of this historic structure.
Our condition evaluation at the Lyric Theatre revealed some very interesting findings of construction conditions. These early systems used square twisted bars. Plain round and square bars were typically used in reinforced concrete buildings built before 1920. The Lyric Theatre structural roof frame is primarily constructed of riveted connections that still maintain a high level integrity after nearly 90 years. The chemical testing of a structural steel member indicated that the steel used was hot rolled low carbon steel.
VULCAN PARK AND STATUE
The Vulcan statue stands on a pedestal that is 123 feet tall and consists of 29 cast-iron components with connecting flanges that are bolted together internally. The completed weight of the Vulcan's figure alone is 100,000 pounds with a total weight with accessories of 120,000 pounds. BHATE was retained in 2002 to provide engineering and testing services for the restoration of the original tower and construction of the Vulcan Center building. The statue and park were officially opened in 2004. The park is underlain by underground iron ore mines.
Sloss Furnaces was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1981 in Birmingham, Alabama. It operated as a pig iron-producing blast furnace from 1882 to 1971. After closing it became one of the first industrial sites to be preserved for a park. In 1977 efforts for preservation of the site were undertaken by the City of Birmingham. BHATE was retained through late 1970’s through the mid 1980’s to assist in evaluation of the condition of the existing structures, structural steel and other building components that were to be preserved and stabilized.